Anxiety in Young Adults During COVID-19
By Jackie Molan
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of anxiety have sharply increased, especially in the young adult population (ages 18-24). Young adults are particularly susceptible to pandemic anxiety because they experienced enough “normal,” pre-COVID life to understand the current uncertainty of their own futures and the future state of the world.
Potential Anxiety Risk Factors
New studies have provided evidence that certain traits present in childhood and adolescence can lead to anxiety in young adulthood. One of these traits is behavioral inhibition, a childhood temperament characterized by nervousness and fear in response to new people and situations. Those who display behavioral inhibition during childhood are more likely to experience worry dysregulation – inadequate worry management skills – during adolescence. Worry dysregulation is a strong predictor of anxiety later in life, which can be brought on by a stressful life event. Therefore, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic likely triggered anxiety in young adults who demonstrated this pattern of temperaments earlier in life.
Causes of Pandemic Anxiety
For young adults, the pandemic has interfered with their school, work, home, and social lives, leading to a significant upending of usual routines. Maintaining a daily routine often provides comfort, so it can be anxiety-inducing when this is lost due to external factors. Further, many people are experiencing “reentry anxiety” as more places reopen without mask mandates. It is difficult to navigate reentering society when there is lingering anxiety about future variants, vaccines, and mandates.
Steps to Improve Anxiety
The following are steps you can take to improve COVID-related anxiety:
- Make time for stress reduction and self-care – This can be as simple as taking a walk or finding a few minutes during the day to meditate.
- Follow a daily routine – Routines may be different than they were pre-COVID, but they can still be helpful.
- Distinguish work/school life from home life – Even though you may be spending more time in your house than before, you can set boundaries to make work/school feel separate from home. Try designating certain times, or even rooms in the house, to leisure activities.
- Seek help from a mental health professional.
Anxiety can feel like an uphill battle, but seeking help from a mental health professional can provide you with the resources you need to cope with post-COVID life.
If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for pandemic-related anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/